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Legal advice about former councillor convicted of rape to be released

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THE COUNCIL’S legal advice relating to former councillor and convicted rapist Dai Boswell will be released into the public domain.

In a recorded vote at Thursday’s (Dec 13) Full Council meeting, 41 members voted in favour of the documents being released with just seven voting against.

Cllr Jacob Williams submitted a notice of motion calling for it to be made public and the matter was discussed by an Overview and Scrutiny Committee before coming back to council.

He stated that having seen the documents and providing sensitive information isn’t divulged, that the public has every right to see them.

Boswell was elected in 2017 but did not take up his seat for the first month and the council instructed legal advisor James Goudie QC to give his advice on the matter.

The Council spent over £2000 in doing so and had recommended that the information should not be released.

At Thursday’s meeting Cllr Brian Hall said: “On November 15, the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny committee discussed releasing instructions and evidence which was called for a month after the 2017 election.

“The leader made it clear at a meeting on July 26 that the instructions and advice would be made available to members. The council is now seeking general publication. The recommendation was that the instruction and advice should not be made available as Cllrs could view documents on a need to know basis in order to satisfy themselves in their councillor capacity.

“Two members spoke in support saying the documents contained matters of public interest and that it should be in the public domain.”

Cllr Jacob Williams added: “The legal advice seeking to be published relates to a period of time after Dai had been elected and before he was found guilty. The council were preventing him from taking his seat despite him not being charged.

“Well over £2000 was spent that the council hadn’t been made aware of. I did get it so that councillors were able to see that advice and what I read was a real eye-opener.

“The Monitoring Officers’ report objecting had a number of red herrings and straw men. She said it will create a precedent but I am not seeking to create that. This is just to release two specific documents.

“She also said that approving any request would open up a can of worms if the interest and advice was publicised and that anything that appears in the media would lead to the council conducting business with its hand behind its back.

“This is just this set of legal advice which reflects poorly on senior members of this authority. I am one of the most vocal councillors in opposing the whim of officers when they find themselves in a bind, they go to lawyers to get themselves out of a pickle. This has been a very expensive lesson.”

Cllr Michelle Bateman asked how many councillors had asked to see the legal advice and the Monitoring Officer Claire Jones said that just two had asked, one of which was Cllr Williams.

Cllr Mike Stoddart said: “The Monitoring Officer states that it is not advisable to proactively publish this but we are not proactively publishing. This has been dragged out by the notice of motion. This will be reactive.

He went on to say that there were occasions when the council should keep its advice close to its chest but said this was not one of those occasions.

The debate took a different turn when Cllr Mark Carter asked the leader if views expressed on social media bordered on ‘workplace bullying’ but Council Leader David Simpson said he was not a policeman and that he could not close down a Facebook page.

Cllr Mike Evans added: “I don’t want to see this advice but this is about the principle of whether the public should be allowed to see the advice. The officers are here to give us the whole picture and not the windows they wish us to look through.”

Monitoring Officer Claire Jones gave a lengthy speech about the possible publication of the documents stating that her recommendations to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee were to do with responsible publication and that it was not to be done lightly.

Claire Jones added that Cllr Boswell’s appeal remains live and that there were still victims at the heart of this.

She went on to say that safeguarding was a matter for everyone and that her door was always open to members to come in and discuss issues and that due to the amount of social media interest it was moving towards the documents being in the public interest.

Cllr David Simpson said he was concerned that only two members had seen the advice and that others were discussing without having seen it.

Cllr Williams summed up saying that the speech the Monitoring Officer gave was one of the most ‘memorable’.

In the recorded vote 41 members voted in favour of the advice being released with seven voting against and six abstaining.

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Police officer was assaulted on Christmas Day

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A 25-YEAR-OLD woman from Haverfordwest appeared before the town’s magistrates on Tuesday (Jan 15) to face a charge of assault by beating against a police officer.

Tiffany Rowlands, of West Court, pleaded guilty to assaulting PC Gareth Potter on Christmas Day.

Prosecutor, Sian Vaughan said: “The officer was at the defendant’s property searching the childrens’ bedrooms.

“Rowlands pushed the officer to the chest, and after she calmed down apologised following the incident.”

Defence solicitor, Mark Layton, said: “There’s no record of any injury. They were upstairs, the lights were off so it was dark, and she realises it was wholly inappropriate.”

Magistrates fined Rowlands £40 for the offence and ordered her to pay £85 prosecution costs and £30 victim surcharge.

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Milford Haven: Booms to be removed following oil spill

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BOOMS installed earlier this month to contain an oil spill in the Milford Haven waterway will be removed tomorrow (Jan 17).

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and partner agencies have continued to survey the affected areas since the incident on 3 January and are satisfied that they have contained as much oil as possible.

Where oil has been found on local beaches, Valero’s clean up team have removed it under advice of NRW officers.

The investigation into how this incident, and the previous oil spill in December 2018, happened is ongoing.

Following further assessments and an inspection of the affected fuel pipelines, Valero now believe that no more than 500 litres of oil was released during the incident on 3 January – significantly less than originally feared.

But the pipelines will remain closed after NRW took action last week to suspend their use. NRW will not allow Valero to reopen the pipelines until it is satisfied they can operate without causing further damage to the local environment.

Andrea Winterton, Operations Manager from Natural Resources Wales, said: “Following a swift response from everyone involved, much of the pollution has been contained and cleaned up quickly, reducing the impact it could have had on wildlife and the environment.

“Along with our partners, we will continue to monitor the situation and will respond to any further reports of oil washing ashore in the coming weeks.

“Valero continue to support our efforts and cooperate with our enquiries into how the incidents happened. Our investigation also continues as we consider what further action we need to take to stop this happening again.”

NRW is asking people who live in the area to report any signs of pollution to their 24/7 incident hotline on 03000 65 3000.

The multi-agency response to this incident has involved the following organisations: NRW, Pembrokeshire County Council, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, Milford Haven Port Authority, Marine and Coastguard Agency, Public Health Wales, Food Standards Agency.

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Fishguard: Sex offender caught trying to flee to Ireland

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A sex offender from Bow Street near Aberystwyth who tried to move to Ireland without telling anyone has been jailed.

Dennis Bull, aged 67, was caught trying to drive a van onto the Fishguard–Rosslare ferry with his belongings in the back ready for a new life in the Republic.

Bull, of Nirmit, admitted failing to comply with the conditions of registration as a sex offender and was jailed for 16 months.

Dyfed Thomas, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court it was the third time he had breached the order, imposed at Caernarfon crown court in February, 2016, for possessing indecent images of children.

That conviction was on top of earlier offending in New Zealand that included indecent exposure, outraging public decency and gross indecency with a child.

Mr Thomas said Bull had been jailed for 16 months in 2016 and ordered to register with the police. The restrictions imposed included a requirement to tell the police if he intended to change address.

On November 13 last year police at Fishguard harbour became aware of a Ford Mondeo registered to Bull.

A few minutes later Bull was arrested as he attempted to drive a van onto the Stenna ferry, which was loaded with household items.

Bull told the police he had made arrangements to move to Ireland “lock, stock and barrel” because he understood the monitoring of sex offenders was less strict.

In particular, said Mr Thomas, Bull did not like prospective employers being told about his convictions.

Judge Geraint Walters told Bull, “This was a planned and determined attempt to avoid detection. It was only the eagle eyes of the authorities that brought you to book.

“Your record is troubling and you present a risk of committing more offences of a sexual nature.

 “You are defiant of court orders that are there to protect others and it is truly disturbing that you are so keen to breach them.”

Bull was warned that the 2016 order remained in place for a further seven years.

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